Commercial Spaceflight Federation President Michael Lopez-Alegria said, “In the latest NASA budget, NASA and the Administration have continued to support a prompt return of American astronauts to the International Space Station on American vehicles. We are encouraged by the support shown for the Commercial Crew Program, which is now in a critical phase as complete crew transportation systems go through design, build and testing.”
“NASA also continues to look toward the future by prioritizing investments in technology through the Space Technology Mission Directorate,” said Commercial Spaceflight Federation Chairman Stuart Witt. “We have always had a world-class space program, and investments in technology, in partnership with industry, are needed to keep us there. Reusable suborbital spacecraft, in particular, are providing new capabilities that NASA is using to develop new technologies and to perform vital scientific research.”
Congress and the Administration have consistently identified commercial providers as a cost-effective, safe and reliable source for routine flights to low-Earth orbit, including transportation of cargo and NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station. The third round of the Commercial Crew program was awarded in July 2012, with three complete system designs chosen for further development. Because these are competitively-awarded, fixed-price, milestone-based partnerships, NASA only pays for what is successfully developed.
The Commercial Crew program will enable American providers to free us from dependence on the Russian Soyuz for access to the International Space Station, a facility that American taxpayers have invested billions to build. NASA currently pays Russia more than $60 million per seat to access the Space Station, a price that is expected to rise above $70 million in the next few years.
NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate is revitalizing innovation at NASA, demonstrating technologies that will allow future manned and unmanned missions to reach new destinations. America has always been on the forefront of space and technology, but countries like China and India are rapidly expanding their programs and looking to challenge us. NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program is a key part of the Space Technology Mission Directorate, enabling the testing of new technologies and new modes of scientific research on commercial reusable suborbital vehicles.